Time is the most valuable asset to human being. We can’t stop it, turn it back, or buy it. Therefore, it is likely that each and everyone of us is trying to make the most meaningful use of our time. To keep an eye on the time, people invented the clock. Today, many people wear a wristwatch. They are a loyal companion and are becoming a real darling. Whether vintage, heirloom, luxury watch or everything together, everyone wants to wear their favourite piece for a lifetime.
Most important tips for maintaining your timepiece in great shape
To keep the joy undisturbed for a long time, here are some tips on how to take care of your favourite timepiece. Remember that a watch is only ever as good as the time we invest in its maintenance.
1. Pay Attention when wearingIt’s understandable that you would like to wear your new or used luxury watch. This is what you bought it for! If you have an automatic watch, that is, a timepiece with a mechanical movement, whose spring is automatically wound by your arm movements, you should absolutely pay attention to shocks or heavy vibrations. Nothing is as annoying as a visible defect or an impairment of the functioning inside. Quartz watches are generally less susceptible to external forces, and can absorb shocks better – but you should also avoid putting too much strain on a quartz watch.
2. Proper storageIf you go on vacation or don’t wear your watch for a long period of time, or you are lucky enough to own more than one specimen, then the watch should be stored in a dust-proof and dry case or display case. The case protects with its robust outer shell and with its soft interior against external influences such as shocks or excessive sunlight. Valuable luxury watches should be stored in a secure vault. Sooner or later, usually after about 40 hours, an automatic watch will stop ticking when kept untouched. In order to avoid rewinding the watch each time, which is not necessarily beneficial to the longevity of the movement, it makes sense to think about a watch winder. Your valuable piece is kept in motion even when not in use. The precision of the watches accuracy is maintained. Especially if your watch has several complications, such as a moon phase display, a watch winder can prevent annoying re-adjustments. In addition, the oils in the movement are kept in motion, which prevents hardening or resinify. In turn, modern quartz watches often have an energy-saving function, that you activate by bringing the crown in the “hand adjustment position”. This drastically reduces power consumption and prolongs battery life.
3. Correct setting of the dateA watch with date display is, of course, a matter of taste, nonetheless, proper handling is also crucial over the watch’s lifetime. Unscrew the crown, if it is screwed at all, and bring it into the first grid position by pulling it out gently – so the date switching can be operated. Turn the date to the position of the previous day by turning and then, by pulling the crown out again to the second grid position. Turn the hour hand forward to the 12 o’clock position till the date switches. Now your watch is at the beginning of the current day. You just have to now set the correct time. Especially with chronographs, it should be noted that the fast date switching is not activated between 21:00 and 03:00, and the date should always be set only forwards.
4. Professional cleaningAn essential maintenance step is to regularly clean your watch. Depending on the intensity of use “regular” is a flexible concept. But every two weeks you can grab a slightly damp cloth, and clean the housing all around. To avoid scratching the glass of the watch, it is important to use a soft microfibre cloth. If your watch is watertight, meaning it can handle up to 10 bar pressure, you can easily rinse it under running water. This is especially recommended after swimming in chlorinated or salt water. Attention: do not leave any detergents on the outside, they may inadvertently deteriorate and even destroy the crown and bottom gasket rings.
5. Know the limits of water resistanceWaterproofness is always displayed on a watch. This information is usually given in bar or atm, the common sizes here are the following:
Your watch is protected against minor splashes of water such as rain, but it is by no means waterproof. Any contact with water should be avoided at all costs.
Waterproof up to 3 bar
Washing hands and splashing water is not a problem for your watch, but you shouldn’t take a shower with it.
Waterproof up to 5 bar
You can safely take a shower or go swimming with your watch, but it shouldn’t be exposed to water for too long. Also, be careful not to hold your watch directly into water jets.
Water resistant to 10 bar
A watch with this mark can easily be used for swimming and snorkelling just below the water surface.
Waterproof up to 20 bar
With a resistance of up to 20 bar, your watch is officially known as a diver’s watch. Of course, this can be topped, but for recreational diving it should be sufficient water resistance.
Waterproof to 50 bar
With your watch, you can descend to considerable depths and it will still reliably show you the time.
The conversion factor is 1:10, which means 1 bar or atm corresponds to a diving depth of 10 meters, 20 bar correspond to 200 meters and so on. Unfortunately, it is not that easy, the figure in meters corresponds to a value simulated in the laboratory. From air pressure above the water surface, movements under water or even a concentrated jet of water from the shower, the pressures vary widely under real conditions. In just two meters of depth, the pressure can equate to one or two bars!
Regardless of how water resistant a watch is labeled, be aware that water resistance is not a permanent feature. The installed sealing elements deteriorate with daily use, therefore a maintenance including testing of the gaskets is recommended every one to two years.
6. The braceletThe bracelet should also be kept in good condition by appropriate cleaning. For a steel bracelet the best is a simple toothbrush, so you can easily get between the individual links of the bracelet. A classic leather strap is a natural product and therefore has only a limited lifespan. Even the highest quality leather straps can only withstand a certain degree of moisture, temperature fluctuations, sweat and stress in sports. A little care can do wonders. For comparison, think of leather shoes, if you treat them with appropriate care products from time to time, they shine much longer in familiar gloss. Rubber bracelets – found mainly on diving watches, is also a natural product. Although it is more resistant than the leather strap, but not indestructible. Rinse it off after contact with salt water carefully with tap water. Don’t expose it unnecessarily long to direct sunlight and it will usually survive unscathed for many years.
7. Protection against magnetismToday we can barely move without getting into magnetic fields. What’s not harmful to a human being can have an effect on a watch or its inner movement in everyday life. From many electrical devices, ranging from our smartphones to usual household appliances to electric motors or just the magnetic closures of your handbag, they emit magnetic fields. They can affect the accuracy of a watch. To protect it against this, soft iron cages, ie additional housings, have been used inside the watches since the 1930s. Today, instead of these modern anti-magnetic materials , innovative technologies are used, but you can always help your watch, for example by not placing it directly next to your smartphone.
For professions such as doctors or scientists, who are sometimes constantly exposed to strong magnetic fields, there are specially developed watches such as the Rolex Milgauss or the Omega Aqua Terra. These models easily withstand strong magnetic fields and are therefore extremely popular among their it’s specific field.
8. A scratched glassYou’re having a really good day, with everything working out smoothly. You don’t think it could get any better, and full of exuberance you leave your arms dangle – a little too much. You slip along a facade with your wrist, and the gaze is flicks instantly on your wrist and there it is: a scratch in the Hesalite glass of the watch. Your mood drops as abruptly as a bouncy castle when the pumps are turned off. Fortunately, you can even out surface scratches on Hesalite glasses yourself. All you need is some polishing paste and a cotton pad, which can be bought from stores or the Internet. First, make sure there is no dust on the glass to avoid further scratching. Then dab a little of the paste on the cotton pad and then distribute the texture with quick movements across the scratch. An immaculate surface appears.
But it’s a completely different story with sapphire crystal. There is no way around it but to get in touch with a watchmaker. It takes a lot more to scratch a sapphire crystal. That is why most luxury watches are equipped with this glass today – it is incredibly durable.
9. Get it into revision on a regular baseEven if you follow all the tips and do everything for your watch. Like every complex machine e.g. a car, a luxury watch regularly has to be checked up. In watchmaker language we are talking about a so called “revision” here. The watch get’s completely disassembled, expertly cleaned inside, defective parts get replaced and then everything get’s reassembled again. Since the parts of a watch can quickly add up to over 400 pieces, you should leave this work to skilled master watchmakers.
A revision consists of a functional test of the winding mechanism, ie crown and power reserve, as well as testing the escapement. The hands and gears are also tested, the gaskets get checked and the balance wheel gets adjusted if needed. Most important is an oil change to avoid mechanical abrasion or even damaging the bearings in the movement. The anchor and second wheel are highly stressed components. The cleaning of the individual parts themselves then takes place in an ultrasonic bath, similar to what is used in dental technology or by optometrists. A revision is generally recommended every four to six years depending on how and under which conditions you wear your watch.